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the following March, Gray resided at his father's house: but his correspondence with West, who was then with his mother at Epsom, his biographer has thought it unnecessary to insert.
At the request of Horace Walpole, Gray now accompanied him in his travels through France and Italy, and deferred his intended study of the law. From letters to his friend West, and to his own family, we have an account of his pursuits while abroad. He seems to have been, as we might have expected, a very studious and diligent traveller. His attention was directed to all the works of art that were curious and instructive. Architecture both of Gothic and Grecian origin, painting, and music, were all studied by him. He appears to have applied diligently to the language; nor did the manners and customs of the inhabitants escape his attention. Like Addison, he compared with the descriptions of ancient authors the modern appearance of the countries through which he passed. There are, indeed, few gratifications more exquisite than those which we perience in being able to identify the scenes, and realize the descriptions, which have been long consecrated in the mind by genius and by virtue ; which have supplied the fancy with its earliest images, and are connected in the memory with its most lasting associations. In such moments as these, we appear to be able suddenly to arrest the progress and lessen the devastations of time. We hardly contemplate with regret the ages that have passed in silence and oblivion; and we behold, for the first time, the fading and faint descriptions of language, stamped with the fresh impressions of reality and truth. The
letters which Gray wrote from Italy were not intended for publication, and do not contain a regular account of the observations which he made : but are rather detached and entertaining descriptions, intended for the amusement of his friends at home. Every thing which he thought of importance was committed to his journal. “He catalogued,” says Mr. Mason, “and made occasional short remarks on the pictures which he saw. He wrote a minute description of every thing which he saw in his tour from Rome to Naples ; as also of the environs of Rome, Florence, &c. They abound with many uncommon remarks, and pertinent classical quotations."
The route chosen by the travellers was one usually taken:-from Paris, through Rheims (where they stayed three months, principally to accustom themselves to the French language) to Lyons, whence they took a short excursion to Geneva, over the mountains of Savoy; and by Turin, Genoa, and Bologna to Florence. There they passed the winter in the company of Mr. Horace Mann, the envoy at that court.* In March 1740, Clement the Twelfth, then Pope, died; and they hastened their journey to Rome, in the hope of seeing the installation of his successor.†. That Gray would have wished to have extended his travels, and enlarged his prospect, beyond these narrow limits, if he had possessed the power, we know from his subsequent advice to a friend
* See Walpole's Works, vol. iv. p. 423. Sir Horace Mann died in 1786 at Florence, where he had resided forty-six years as his Britannic Majesty's minister, at the Court of the Grand Duke.
+ Ibid. p. 440.
who was commencing his travels ; Tritum viatorum compitum calca, et, cum poteris, desere."
And the following passage sketches the outline of an Italian tour, which I believe, few of our travellers have ever completed :-“I conclude, when the winter is
have seen Rome and Naples, you will strike out of the beaten path of English travellers, and see a little of the country. Throw yourselves into the bosom of the Apennine; survey the horrid lake of Amsanctus; catch the breezes on the coast of Taranto and Salerno; expatiate to the very toe of the continent; perhaps strike over the faro of Messina ; and having measured the gigantic columns of Girgenti and the tremendous cavern of Syracusa, refresh yourselves amidst the fragrant vale of Enna.-Oh! che bel riposo !”
In May, after a visit to the Frascati and the Cascades of Tivoli, Gray sent his beautiful “ Alcaic Ode' to West. In June he made a short excursion to Naples; and was charmed with the scenery that presented itself in that most delightful climate. He describes the large old fig-trees, the oranges in bloom, the myrtles in every hedge, and the vines hanging in festoons from tree to tree. He must have been among the first English travellers who visited the remains of Herculaneum,* as it was discovered only the preceding
* Some excavations were made in Herculaneum in 1709, by the Prince D'Elbeuf but thirty years elapsed after the orders given to the Prince to dig no farther, before any more notice was taken of them. In December 1738, the King of the two Sicilies was at Portici, and gave orders for a prosecution of the subterraneous labours. There was an excavation in the time of the Romans; and another in 1689. In a
year; and he pointed out to his companion, the description in Statius that pictured the latent city:
“ Hæc ego Chalcidicis ad te, Marcelle, sonabam
Litoribus, fractas ubi Vesbius egerit iras,
Statii Sylv. IV. iv. 78.
At Naples the travellers stayed ten days; and Gray's next letter to his father, in which he talks of his return to England, is dated again from Florence; and whence he sent, soon after, his Poem on the ‘Gaurus' to West. He remained, however, at that place about eleven months; and during this time commenced his Latin poem ‘De Principiis Cogitandi. He then set off with Walpole, on the 24th of April, for Bologna and Reggio,* at the latter of which towns an unfortunate difference took place between them, and they parted. The exact cause of this quarrel has been passed over by the delicacy of his biographer, because H. Walpole was alive, when the Memoirs of Gray were written. The former, however, charged
letter from H. Walpole to West on this subject (see Walpole's Works, vol.iv. p.448), dated Naples, June 14, 1740, is a passage which shows Mr. Mason's conjecture, that the travellers did not recognise the ancient town of Herculaneum by name, to be unfounded, H. Walpole calls it by that name in his letter.
* Dr. Johnson has two slight mistakes in his “Life of Gray.' He says that they quarrelled at Florence and parted, instead of Reggio. He says also, that Gray began his poem 'De Principiis Cogitandi' after his return : but it was commenced in the winter of 1740, at Florence,
himself with the chief blame; and lamented that he had not paid more attention and deference to Gray's superior judgment and prudence. In the ‘Walpoliana' (vol. i. p. 95. art. cx.) is the following passage: The quarrel between Gray and me arose from his being too serious a companion. I had just broke loose from the restraint of the University, with as much money as I could spend ; and I was willing to indulge myself. Gray was for antiquities, &c.; whilst I was for perpetual balls and plays;—the fault was mine." Perhaps the freedom of friendship spoke too openly to please: for in a letter from Walpole to Mr. Bentley, some years afterwards, he says: “I was accustomed to flattery enough when my father was minister: at bis fall, I lost it all at once: and since that, I have lived with Mr. Chute, who is all vehemence; with Mr. Fox, who is all disputation; with Sir C. Williams, who has no time from flattery, himself; and with Gray, who does not hate to find fault with me. Whatever was the cause of this quarrel, it must have been very serious, if the information is correct, which is given in the manuscript of the Rev. W. Cole, a person who appears to have lived in terms of intimacy with Gray during the latter part of his life. “ When matters (he says) were made up between Gray and Walpole, and the latter asked Gray to
* See Walpole's Works, vol. v. p. 334.-In a letter from Gray to Walpole in 1751, is a sentence which seems to point towards this quarrel : “It is a tenet with me, (he says)—a simple one, you will perhaps say, that if ever two people who love one another come to breaking, it is for want of a timely eclaircissement, a full and precise one, without witnesses or mediators, and without reserving one disagreeable circumstance for the mind to brood upon in silence." See Walpole's Works, vol. v. p. 389.